COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Returning to the Columbus City League Preview for the first time since 2013, it was clear early on that a ton has changed since then. Most notably, the closure of Brookhaven, the change in the host site from East to Africentric and the fact that the oldest players in Saturday's showcase were in sixth grade the last time we were able to attend this event.
Catching the last five games of the day, let's take a look at the top performers that we saw from each team.
Rob Dorsey (5'11 PG / Northland / 2022): In a primetime showdown against Walnut Ridge, Dorsey rose to the occasion in the second half to power the Vikings to a much-needed victory. The always composed guard shook off the rust of a slow start and took over the last eight minutes of the matchup, knocking down back-to-back threes to spark a run that helped Northland take over the game. Dorsey is a strong ball handler that can get into the lane where he shows the IQ and experience to make the best play time after time. When his jumper is falling, Dorsey is a tough cover on the perimeter, as he has a unique ability to change speeds and keep defenders off balance. We liked the effort and energy he provided on the defensive end, as he helped the Vikings in a dominant defensive performance. Dorsey will have a chance to put up some special numbers, as he will likely be the catalyst in helping Northland win yet another North division title.
Jaylon Jackson (5'10 PG / Centennial / 2021): While Jackson didn't lead his team in scoring or even come close, he made the biggest impact in Saturday's showdown against Eastmoor. The always tough Jackson put together a masterful performance on the defensive perimeter, helping Centennial survive a disastrous first quarter to take a lead against the Warriors. Jackson is a physical defender that has a great IQ and feel for the game, seemingly always being in position on the defensive end where he took a major charge late in the game. Jackson was the first guy back on defense, as he stopped three fast breaks by himself with excellent defensive positioning, defending without fouling and forcing tough attempts at the rim. The junior plays within himself, makes the right play time after time and communicates on both ends of the floor. We are big fans of guys who play basketball the way it should be played and Jackson is one of the best in the City League when it comes to that. If you need a tough perimeter defender that will put the team above himself, then Jackson is your guy.
Cali Davis (6'0 PG / Africentric / 2020): There is one word to describe Davis - winner. On a young Africentric team full of talent but still needing to find some maturity and selflessness, Davis will be the key factor in helping the Nubians realize its potential. The 6-foot guard is a legitimate two-way player that is as tough as they come in the backcourt in the City League. While he splashed onto our radar with his sleek outside shooting as a sophomore, Davis has since rounded out his game, as he is a talented ball handler, passer and defender. You can count on Davis to come up clutch in winning time, as he is not scared of the big shot but will make the right pass if the situation calls for it. With a qualifying ACT and GPA, Davis would be a great look for college programs looking for a tough guard that will do anything to win.
Davon Wooden (5'10 G / Beechcroft / 2020): A two-sport standout that especially excels on the gridiron, Wooden is no slouch on the hardwood. The 5-foot-10 guard played an outstanding game in helping Beechcroft overcome the experience and athleticism of South in a big win for the Cougars. Wooden is a shifty ball handler that creates separation and can make plays in the lane. We loved the edge that Wooden brought to the floor, as he helped Beechcroft limit turnovers against a South squad that thrives in transition. Wooden will do anything to help his team win, as he did a terrific job on each end of the floor in a difficult matchup against a talented Bulldog backcourt.
Eldon Boateng (6'1 PF / Northland / 2020): Boateng by far had the grittiest performance of any player in the event on Saturday. Going up against Kent State signee and Mr. Basketball favorite VonCameron Davis, Boateng had the best defensive performance of his life in limiting the City League's top returning scorer. Boateng, thanks to his lower body size and strength, made it difficult for Davis to get through him. Sitting down on the perimeter and staying in front of Davis, Boateng was the single biggest key for Northland on the defensive end of the floor. Despite not having great size, Boateng uses his body extremely well, as he boxes out and clears space inside, controlling the boards and moving opponents out of the way. We love the hustle, effort and energy that Boateng plays with, as he is the first guy to the floor, constantly talks on the back line of the defense and will make the unselfish pass time after time.
Shamarion Rogers (6'2 PF / Linden-McKinley / 2021): In a tough loss to Africentric, Rogers was a bright spot for Linden, as his motor, toughness and intelligence made a big impact for the Panthers. Rogers plays with great energy, as he is always active on both ends of the floor which helps him control the glass and find scoring opportunities around the rim. The junior forward is a strong finisher, as he was able to score through contact on a handful of occasions on Saturday. The 6-foot-2 Rogers is one of the team's best passers, making several strong reads for scoring opportunities. On a Linden team with plenty of length and talent, Rogers is the engine that makes the motor run.
Kamal Walters (6'2 WG / Eastmoor / 2020): A player we had not seen prior to Saturday, Walters was a breakout performer in helping Eastmoor tie at 27 against Centennial. The 6-foot-2 senior played with a high motor for the entire game, starting off the contest with a couple strong finishes at the rim in transition. Walters even flashed some of his athleticism with a big chase down block on the other end to stop a transition layup. With Eastmoor needing a scoring boost on the wing, we see Walters stepping into that role for the Warriors this winter.
Domenic Farley (6'0 PG / Briggs / 2020): In leading the Bruins to a hard-fought win over East, Farley showed off his outside shooting touch for Briggs. The 6-foot guard is a four-year varsity veteran, spending his first two seasons at West before coming over to the Bruins last season. With the chance to play a full season this year, we see Farley putting up strong scoring numbers, as he has an ability to create his own shot and can really get hot from the perimeter. Briggs is going to greatly rely on the three ball this year and Farley will play a huge part in deciding if the Bruins will be successful or not.
Trevell Adams (6'0 PG / South / 2020): In a game where it seemed like South was going through the motions, Adams was a bright spot as he was able to get any shot he wanted off the bounce, getting to the rim at will where he finished at a high level. Adams is as explosive of an athlete as you'll find in the area, as there may not be a guard who gets more elevation than Adams when attacking the basket. We enjoyed watching Adams operate off the ball, as he's continued to improve as a shooter but is an equally impressive finisher that is not fazed by contact or lengthy defense. A natural born leader with genuine toughness, Adams is only going to get better and add layers to his game, as we are confident that he will be a terrific college player.
Makhale Massey (6'3 WG / Northland / 2021): While Dorsey was the key in the second half for the Vikings, Massey was big-time in the first half, knocking down a trio of impressive triples and hitting a mid-range pull up on a play where he was fouled. Massey has one of the smoothest games in the City League, as he is a pure shooter that doesn't need much space to get his shots off. With talented guards like Dorsey and senior Devan White on the roster, Massey will have plenty of chances to put up quality numbers this year, as he will help this Vikings team play to its potential if he can score it like he did on Saturday. The 6-foot-3 junior is a good teammate, plays tough defense and was a consistent threat on the glass for Northland on Saturday.
Daylen Patterson (5'8 PG / Eastmoor / 2020): With its top scorer Julian Binford out on Saturday, Patterson stepped up in a big way for Eastmoor. The senior guard, who has a game very similar to that of Binford's, was the Warriors' top offensive threat, getting into the lane at will where he finished a couple tough buckets. With the game in the balance late, Patterson hit an impressive game-tying three at the buzzer to avoid an Eastmoor loss. Once Binford is able to return to the lineup, he and Patterson will form a tough, albeit small, one-two punch for the Warrior backcourt.
Travonne Jackson (6'5 WG / Centennial / 2021): There aren't many big guards with the handling coordination that Jackson has. The 6-foot-5 junior was a crowd favorite on Saturday, as his handling ability kept defenders off balance all night. While his classmate Jaylon Jackson set the tone with his standout defense, Travonne Jackson took care of business on the offensive end for the Stars. Jackson got into the lane at will off the bounce and knocked down a few shots. With a lot of wiggle and confidence to his game, Jackson has plenty of ability and will be relied upon heavily by the Stars this winter.
Ernest Johnson (6'7 PF / Africentric / 2021): According to the coaches at Africentric, Johnson continues to get better every day and we got the chance to see the results of his hard work on Saturday. While we hadn't ever seen Johnson before, we came away very intrigued with the slim 6-foot-7 post. Johnson was the Nubians' most impactful player on both ends of the floor in the win over Linden, showing soft touch around the basket, snatching a handful of rebounds and altering shots around the rim. The young big man is a player to keep an eye on in the City League, as you can't teach his length and size. If he can develop over the next two years like Africentric's last standout big man Jah Bennett, the Nubians will be very successful in both the City League and Division III.
Da'lan Keaton (6'7 C / Eastmoor / 2020): The biggest player pound for pound in the City League, Keaton had a nice showing for Eastmoor in its matchup against Centennial. The wide bodied 6-foot-7 post is simply massive, as he blocked and altered shots around the rim and showed a soft touch when he got deep position on the interior. We even saw Keaton stretch the floor on a catch and shoot triple, something we didn't know he was capable of doing prior to Saturday. In the City League where there aren't many true post players, Keaton stands out and will be a big part to an Eastmoor team looking to get back to the top of the division.
Amani Lyles (6'6 PF / Beechcroft / 2022): One of the most intriguing prospects in the event, Lyles had a stellar performance in helping Beechcroft overcome South. The 6-foot-6 sophomore has a lengthy frame, broad shoulders and long arms, all reasons why we are very confident in his upside going forward. Lyles did a great job on the glass, helping Beechcroft force South into several one and done possessions. In the game's biggest moments, Lyles rose to the occasion on a potential game-tying score for South, stuffing an attempt at the rim to help the Cougars survive. We look forward to watching Lyles develop, as Beechcroft has a talented sophomore class that reminds us a bit of the 2018 group that won the City League.
Alonzo Thorpe (6'6 PF / East / 2022): Before we get into why we are big fans of Thorpe's game, we want to point out that the sophomore has a 4.0 grade point average. That alone deserves Thorpe some major recognition. Fortunately for the 6-foot-6 forward, he's also a talented basketball player that has a bright future in the East program. In a challenging matchup against Briggs, Thorpe jumped on our radar with his size, athleticism and all-around ability. Thorpe moves well for his size, as he was not afraid to step out and defend on the perimeter. On the offensive end, Thorpe is an athletic finisher, smart passer and active rebounder that will be a major piece for the Tigers going forward.
Kaveon Ross (6'6 PF / Walnut Ridge / 2020): After going viral with a poster dunk earlier in the week, Ross continued his above the rim theatrics for Walnut Ridge in a loss to Northland. The 6-foot-6 senior lived above the rim and was the Scots' lone source of interior scoring for large parts of Saturday's matchup. Ross is a physical post who is as strong as you'll find in the area. While he's receiving Division I and II interest as a defensive end and tight end on the gridiron, Ross is also a talented basketball player that will play a key part in deciding if Walnut Ridge is ready to win a City League title this winter.
Honorable mention: Cedric Norvett (6'0 G / East / 2020), Qian Magwood (6'0 PG / Walnut Ridge / 2020), Eli Burke (6'0 PG / Africentric / 2021), Marcus Johnson (6'4 WG / South / 2020), LA Walker (6'4 WG / Linden-McKinley / 2022), JJ Simmons (6'0 PG / Beechcroft / 2022), Mauricio Diaz (5'10 WG / Briggs / 2021), Leon Douglas (6'2 WG / Walnut Ridge / 2021), Javo Jordan (6'0 PG / Beechcroft / 2022)